Sunday, June 7, 2009

Road Trip 06/06/2009 Paris, Texas

Bonham Trade Day was more energetic this weekend, compared to last month’s rainy mess. Plenty of folks selling this and that… a lot of junk, but some gems too. Its always fun to walk around looking at old stuff.

bonham vendor

This weekend, I picked up a decent whitetail rack for cheap – and an old wooden boxed ignition coil from a Model T. Sounds like an odd thing to buy, given that I don’t own a Model T, but the wood looks really pretty when refinished and the metal parts are brass and copper.

I can’t help being interested in random stuff :)

When we were done in Bonham, we had a choice to either explore a partially abandoned group of lake cabins built in the 1930’s on a small, little known lake - and visiting Paris, Texas. We opted for Paris, Texas, but the little lake resort explore should come up soon. I wanted to do some fishing while there and both our licenses are expired.

That’s how spoiled you get just fishing farm ponds :)

We hadn’t been to Paris in a long time. If you go the “old” route using Highway 56 most of the way, you pass through a couple of cool old towns that are worth taking the time to explore. We didn’t this trip, since we’ve passed this way before. All my pics of Honey Grove, Dodd City, and Windom are pre-digital. There’s some really cool old houses and buildings there, though.

Right before you reach Paris on highway 82, you’ll pass a field on the north side of the road with a great mass of old antique tractors. John Deere, mostly.

tractor goat

The goats didn’t seem too concerned, so I’m assuming that they aren’t of the trained attack variety.

We hit the antique shops in old Downtown Paris, which are pretty good. Paris is one of the few places around here with decent antique hunting, that has survived Ebay. The downtown area is really pretty too.

paris vines

Our main objective, though, was to visit Evergreen Cemetery which lies to the south of downtown off main street. It is a HUGE cemetery, having an estimated 18,000 graves. There’s a large section from the late 1800’s – which was the reason for our interest.

evergreen 2

Evergreen has to have the highest concentration of truly interesting and unusual headstones that we’ve ever personally visited. The Woodmen of the World markers are really common in most old cemeteries around here – but the 1880 versions are over the top ornate.

evergreen moore

This marker was one of the strangely beautiful ones. Lots of interesting imagery going on. While it looks ominous – the skull and crossbones bedecked shield actually indicates that the deceased was a member of the Knights of Pythias. The “FCB” on the crest stand for faith, charity, and benevolence.

evergreen moore 2

Probably one of the most photographed headstones in the cemetery is this one. It was commissioned by Willet Babcock, before his death in 1881:

willet babcock 2

Looks pretty cool on its own. However, when you look closer you’ll notice a couple of interesting details. For instance, when was the last time you saw a statue of Jesus, wearing cowboy boots?

willet babcock 4

As well, on either side of the nameplate you’ll see torches carved into the stone. The picture below is not inverted….. the torches are actually upside down for some reason.

willet babcock 3

I was struck several times at Evergreen by the grave markers for children. It always makes me sad to see the evidence of a little life cut short, even someone who passed so very long ago. I found it difficult to decide which marker in Evergreen was the most troubling, though.

There's the obvious beauty and love poured into the rememberence of this little girl by her parents:

evergreen baby sleeping

Now contrast that with this little stone, that I found all by itself with no other family stones around:

infant close

That's it?.... just "Infant"?

No name, no dates... no other family around??

I realize that once we leave this world our body doesn't give a flip what happens to it. My current plans are to be cremated after I die, in the least expensive manner that I can arrange before hand (subject of another post entirely...).

But the site of that little lonely "Infant" marker made me almost unbearably sad.

If you appreciate the beauty of old cemeteries, Evergreen is worth a look when you're in the area.

Last note on this trip is concerning our lunch spot. We were going to try a place called “Fish Fry”, that I had read great things about. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was locked up tighter than a drum. I’m assuming its out of business, since there was no sign.

Instead, we ate at Jaxx Hamburgers in Downtown Paris. Amazingly good hamburgers, of the “gourmet” variety. That’s a different beast from my favorite Café/Diner burger – but delicious in its own way.


Bitmap said...

I love the old tractor place. I think I've been to the old cabins on the lake, too. I haven't even been fishing on a cattle tank in a long time.

Looks like a neat trip.

Paladin said...

Old rusty stuff in a field attracts me like a magnet. The only stuff that makes me stop quicker to investigate, is old horse drawn farm equipment.

rollinztx said...

Great little tribute to our little town. I wanted to say, Fish fry is open, but only thursday thru saturday, and if you don`t have resevations, you probably won`t get in. Jaxx Burgers was an excellent 2nd choice